Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People (Part One)?

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” so begin the tribulations of the children’s classic hero, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?

The book has a positively puritan title (check out the length and descriptive nature in all its glory!). But it also captures a great truth. This little boys struggles have enchanted generations of readers, because every one of us has terrible, horible, bad days. The 19thCentury American Poet H. W. Longfellow who has penned: “Into each life some rain must fall, / Some days must be dark and dreary.” Someone has said, their are three states people are in in life. They are either in the midst of troubles, just emerging from troubles, or about to enter into trouble. But beyond this common place there is something more.

“There comes into all souls, at least once in life, a severe test. It is known as the Dark Night of the Soul. It is when we are beleaguered by darkness: spiritual and mental and where no hope seems to be near and everything we try to do it thwarted. It is where the soul is forced to persist and enter into the glorious Golden Dawn of Illumination and kinship with God, or relax into  the dull slumber of a mediocre physical existence. You cannot avoid it. If this test has not already come into your life-it will. How you deal with it is as important as life itself.” (From the preface to the poem The Dark Night of the Soul by 16th century theologian John Cross).

The Biblical Book of Job sets out to answer the often difficult quandary: “Is God Good?”. But it answers it from the classic question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. The Author of the Biblical book notes of the story’s central character, “that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). Notice that this description identifies four things about Job:

* blameless: This word in Hebrew, the language Job was written in, speaks of perfection in the sense of wholeness or integrity. It means simplicity of morality, what you see is what you get. Job was a “good old boy”. You could trust Job with any secret. He would always be on your side.

* upright: This word means, that as a reflection of his integrity, Job was a “straight arrow”. His integrity was an integrity of moral goodness. He was one of those people you could just count on to do the right thing. He helped the orphan and the widow. He upheld justice.

* fearing God: This idea means he was a man of faith. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is also a great measure of morality. Even in secret Job would maintain his integrity and uprightness, because he knew that God saw even in the secret place. Job followed God’s commandments, and was  a great person to be around. He gave practical counsel to everyone leading to their success in life.

*Turning away from evil: This means when temptation came Job’s way, he went in the other direction. Sometimes a person is afraid to do evil themselves. But they will watch evil. Vicarious evil is the fundamental principle of the Hollywood industry. Job would not even consider evil, but turned wholly from it. He would never cheat, or hurt you.

Why did bad things happen to Job? Why did he enter a “dark night of the soul”? Is there injustice with God?